Courting new institutional clients used to be a straighforward, albeit difficult, job.
Not any more.
Now it’s ferociously hard, and ferociously difficult.
“It used to be very clear regarding whom you called and how you engaged the client when trying to influence a sale. There are now multiple centers of influence and multiple touch points influencing the client’s decision,” Todd Cassler
, senior managing director and head of institutional sales at John Hancock Funds
recently told MFWire
“How well you identify, and meet, a client's needs will dictate whether you are going to be successful or fail,” he added. “Because there are so many factors influencing the client’s decision, it requires you to think strategically and tactically about building your business.”
Consequently, Cassler is busy thinking up a variety of new strategies that will help his firm target key influencers in institutional investment decisions, such as consultants.
For example, he said, an advisor may use a number of outside resources as part of the sales practice. They may employ a firm to help them with the retirement business. These firms provide education services, RFP writing, and manager due diligence.
Consequently, “if a retail firm is working like a consultant, you need to engage them like a consultant. You have to give them access to portfolio managers, provide them with reporting materials and give them value-add content specific to their customer's needs,” Cassler said.
“In many cases, retail broker dealers are using a consultant to help them building recommended lists and asset allocation portfolios. You need to have communication across channels to create a better client experience,” he added.
A key element of this strategy: hiring savvy technical salespeople
who know the business cold and who are then trained to properly evaluate the players in the decision process.
“You need to understand their screening process. Specifically, how are they building the investment menu for the plan. They may have some internal manager screening or due diligence capability, which can influence the decision-making process,” said Cassler.
How do you learn the screening process? Good client profiling, he says. Queries like “Tell me about your screening methodology?” and “How are they are building their menu for a plan?” are important.
“Tell me about your business, about the platforms you work with, your clients. You are trying to understand the blueprint for doing business with the organization,” Cassler said. “The profiling done by the salesperson is important. It is the key differentiator.”
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